Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious global health challenge with 9 million new TB cases and nearly 1.5 million deaths reported each year. Earlier this month on March 24th, citizens across the globe marked World TB Day. This year, partners continued to call for a global effort to find, treat and cure all people with the disease and accelerate progress to ending TB by 2035.
According to the World Health Organization, TB is a leading killer of people with HIV, causing one fourth of all HIV-related deaths. And yet, one in three people ill with TB are missed by health systems. These staggering facts highlight the need to do more.
With support from the Izumi Foundation, which gives assistance to the world’s poorest people by supporting programs that improve health in developing countries, Dignitas began building a one-stop TB-HIV clinic at Machinga District Hospital last year in partnership with the Malawi Ministry of Health. Located in the southeast region of Malawi, one of they objectives of building the clinic is to ensure that people living in the district can easily be tested and receive the treatment they need.
Geoffrey Magwaya is a TB clinical officer working at the hospital. Geoffrey was overjoyed with the clinic’s arrival, which takes an integrated and patient-centered approach to providing care for people with both TB and HIV.
“Before, much needed services were provided in separate clinics that were located almost 400 metres apart. This had a negative impact on service coordination. Now it will be easier for a patient to get all the health services they need in one visit, thereby saving on time,” said Geoffrey. When HIV+ patients receive treatment for TB sooner, their chances for survival increases.
According to Mphatso Magwaya, who serves as Dignitas’s District Programme Coordinator, the new clinic was architecturally designed to handle TB services in a well-ventilated room. The clinic layout includes a TB consultation room, a HIV Testing and Counselling room, a drug dispensary and a meeting room for group activities.
“In the past, TB patients were getting services in a TB ward but now I am glad that they are getting the services in a dedicated clinic, which allows us to keep this space reserved for patients who needed to be admitted because of complex cases. The new clinic is helpful because we can easily provide private consultations for patients and send them home with medications, all under one roof,” said Mphatso.
The Machinga TB-HIV clinic opened its doors to the public earlier this year but the official opening is planned for May.